As I argued earlier this week, words like "disruptive," "innovative," and "transformational" can lose their punch when applied to every new company, every new product, every new feature. But there are undoubtedly plenty of areas in which innovation and transformation are not just happening and warranted, but absolutely crucial.

It is with that in mind that each year the World Economic Forum selects a group of startups to honor as Technology Pioneers. The WEF announced the recipients of the 2011 award today - 31 companies selected from over 300 nominations from 13 different countries.

Technology is clearly empowering people in all walks of society by giving them more information, more options, a bigger voice in the world around them and more control over their own health and their impact on the environment.
- World Economic Forum

The startups selected are rated in terms of innovation, impact, growth, proof of concept, and leadership. Over 450 companies have been honored since the award began in 2000, and past winners include Twitter and crisis mapping platform Ushahidi.

In announcing today's winners, the World Economic Forum lauds the ways in which Internet technologies, particularly social networking, have shifted power and knowledge. "Technology is clearly empowering people in all walks of society by giving them more information, more options, a bigger voice in the world around them and more control over their own health and their impact on the environment. Technological advances that allow an unprecedented level of collaboration and cooperation in real time mean that acting on that information has never been easier."

Many of the startups address energy, environmental and health issues. But 13 of the 31 startups honored today fall into the categories of "information technologies and new media." They are:

An international non-profit, the World Economic Forum's motto is "entrepreneurship in the global public interest." Kudos to the companies honored today for doing just that.